The recent results in the constituent put Gabriel Boric on the verge of a far-right constitution .
Photo: TW-Gabriel Boric
LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández
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Leer en español: Gabriel Boric está en una crisis política y al borde de una constitución de ultra derecha
A couple of months ago, Chileans took to the streets asking for a great social change. From the discontent with the government of Sebastián Piñera to the change in the constitution, there were demands in the streets. The desire for change was evident in the presidential elections, where Gabriel Boric represented that claim for a new Chile. So much so that in 2021 he obtained 55.87% of the votes, surpassing José Antonio Kast with 44.13% in the second round. One of his flags was to deliver to the Chilean people a new constitution, which would leave behind the period of dictatorship during which the current Magna Carta of Chile was drafted.
However, from the desire for change to deciding what it should be, the distance is long. After the first constituent process was carried out, only 39.11% (of the 85.86% of the electoral census) voted against a progressive constitution. This is why the process had to be repeated and gave, last weekend, a clear victory to the right.
In the most recent constituent elections, the Chilean people gave another unexpected result. José Antonio Kast's Republican Party won 22 of the 51 seats on the Constitutional Council. This gives them a simple majority that gives them a veto power, which added with the votes of the right, achieves a total of 33 positions.
Their power is clear, they are strong enough to unleash their conservative policies. Measures such as banning same-sex marriage; the abortion; privatize health and pensions; create institutions at will; etc are feasible today. The overwhelming majority leaves them a privileged position to which they can give freedom, regardless of the damage in terms of rights.
For now, the process continues with the creation of the Constitutional Council, scheduled for June 7. The latter must deliver the text for consideration on November 7 and on December 17 it will be put back into consideration by Chileans through a plebiscite.
Gabriel Boric Crisis
With this result, the main affected is President Gabriel Boric. One of his main campaign proposals was the design of the constitution, a liberal and progressive constitution. However, today the outlook seems to be one of great obstacles for the government. But it is not only in terms of the constituent. There is also a majority opposition in Congress that may continue to impede the progress of reforms. More when the design of the constitution may be contrary to the interests of the Government.
Even more difficult with the defeat at the polls of the pro-government group in the recent constituent vote. Today, the president does not seem to offer a guarantee for the independent parties and to seduce moderate opponents.
The Reasons for the Victory of the Extreme Right
The elected constituent member of the Republican Party, Luis Silva, assured (on Tele 13) that there are 4 main reasons why the right-wing movement won the historic victory.
Punishment vote. According to the most voted politician, people view the current administration with suspicion. These elections have also served to demonstrate nonconformity towards Boric. According to La Gaceta, after the first year in the presidential election, the president only has 35% of the support.
Security. For many Chileans, the perception of insecurity has increased in recent years. The Republican Party has been able to take advantage of this situation and has proposed various policies that involve changes in the immigration system.
Distrust. The September 2022 elections, when more than 60% of voters did not approve the new constitution, demonstrate Chileans' fear of big changes. This is shown in support for the Republican Party, which "has been more reluctant to take this path of the new Constitution," Silva said.
José Antonio Kast. The politician, who lost in the last presidential elections against Boric, today has regained his strength. Despite allegations of his family's links to Nazism, Kast is now the most influential political figure in the country.
The Right with Its Cards on the Table
The irony caused by the constituent process in Chile is that the group that has always opposed drafting a new Magna Carta, the Chilean right, is today the one that has the possibility of drafting a draft at will. Now they will be a majority and will be able to take two options.
The first is to write an openly right-wing and conservative constitution, honoring the vote of its constituents and proposing a protected text to make future reforms more difficult. However, taking this option would make it difficult for more moderate sectors to support the vote on the final text at the end of 2023. As happened in the last vote on September 4, 2022, when the left had a majority. This can also generate greater polarization and generate subsequent protests.
The second option is to have a more moderate approach. Give in to key points or, at least, leave the possibility of future reforms. Finding support from different sectors to guarantee the victory of that text at the polls is a viable option. However, this measure could be seen as a betrayal of their voters and there is no guarantee that they will win the presidency in future elections.
For now, President Gabriel Boric is meeting with close political leaders to find a clearer picture. He must understand that today the political board has him in check and that he will have to give in to various claims to be able, at least, to get policies or reforms within the current Congress.